First…a bit of history.
Paisley and Renfrewshire was awarded an FM radio licence in 1992. Paisley Local Radio (soon renamed ‘Q96’) was the successful applicant and operated from studios at 26 Lady Lane in the West End of the town. Listening figures and revenue was always a challenge but the station operated a professional and diverse schedule including community access programming in the evenings, sports phone-ins, and specialist programming involving indie music, unsigned bands, country, and pre 1960s rock n roll. An extensive and highly regarded local news service was also broadcast and the station won acclaim for its community activism and information during the 1994 Ferguslie Park floods.
In early 1996 a deal was completed to sell the radio station to new owners, the ‘Independent Radio Group’ which was an English based company seeking to expand. ‘Q96’ was renamed as ‘96.3 QFM’ and a more populist, aggressive format put in place. The original specialist and community programming made way for a more consistent sound, but at the same time, a 24 hour schedule was put in place, news and sports output increased and marketing efforts stepped up which significantly raised audience figures and revenue.
Unfortunately, the owners, ‘IRG’ had by that time made other investments, including the acquisition of Leith based ‘Scot FM’ and several stations in England. Pressure on ‘Q’ to move to significant profit increased. This, combined with the limitations of the Lady Lane building, restrictions on the power of the 96.3 FM signal and the struggle to grow the local advertising market resulted first in a sale to talkSport owner Wireless Group, which was itself taken over by UTV and the decision made to move the station to larger, brighter and more modern premises at Kinning Park in Glasgow.
The move OUT of the station’s core transmission area was a controversial one but actually led to increasing emphasis on local content, due to the scrutiny the station came under and the need to comply with its promise of performance. (Permission had been granted to move to Glasgow but only if local output was maintained).
Unfortunately, the re-brand of the underperforming Scot FM to the highly successful Real Radio (by then under ownership of Guardian Media Group) led to a dramatic shake up of the West of Scotland radio listening market. ‘Q’ found itself squeezed and was eventually sold off to GMG. Audiences fell significantly and despite changing back to the original name of ‘Q96’ the owners recognised that operating a local radio service for Paisley and Renfrewshire was not viable. Q96 closed in December 2006 after 14 years on air. After the Christmas break the frequency broadcast ‘Rock Radio’a much more niche service with more automated programming, much less emphasis on Paisley and Renfrewshire. This station subsequently became ‘Real XS’ and when GMG was acquired by Global Radio, was rebranded to ‘XFM’ before being closed down entirely and the licence handed back to regulator OFCOM.
There hasn’t been a full commercial radio station dedicated to Paisley and Renfrewshire since the end of 2006 and there hasn’t been a station based in the town itself since spring 2002.
We are seeking to change this. We believe Paisley and Renfrewshire could support a mainstream, popular commercial broadcast radio channel. But our knowledge of the area and the realities of running a 21st century media business tells us this will be an extremely difficult task.
The issue is straightforward. The station would only have a chance of succeeding if it truly connected with the local area. That would involve a sustained marketing activity, truly distinctive programming, investment in news and current affairs output and the overwhelming support of the local business community. That remains the dream. But it would be unrealistic to believe that something along those lines could be sustained right now. The market is saturated and while various interested parties with history in broadcasting in the area would welcome a radio station returning to the town, this is not a desire regularly expressed by large numbers of the local population. East Renfrewshire is well catered for by Pulse 98.4 in Barrhead and its coverage area includes the Ralston, Hawkhead and Glenburn areas of Paisley. There is also the successful Paisley.Org.Uk website which has done an extremely good job providing local news and information, coverage of local events and has attracted some sponsorship and advertisements from the business community. In addition there is Celtic Music Radio which broadcasts online and on FM to the Glasgow area. We applaud these organisations for the work that they do but they do not provide the level of full-time dedicated broadcasting for and from Paisley and Renfrewshire that we seek to secure.
Over the years, various groups have applied for community radio licences. Although we have had no involvement in any of those bids, it comes as a surprise to us that none have been successful to date. For reasons we are not privy to, OFCOM, has not as yet been moved to award the licence. Although we would prefer a full commercial licence and the community licence option does not appeal to us, we would still be supportive of any group wishing to pursue this.
And so we come to Ren Radio and what we’re doing here. The internet allows anyone to broadcast at relatively low cost with the minimum of equipment and set up. In the absence of anything else, our service will exist. It holds the necessary PPL/PRS licences, is backed by a successful limited company Colin Kelly Media and can operate a live or pre recorded schedule 24/7. We will shortly develop an app and are pleased to open our channel to anyone wishing to broadcast programming for the Paisley and Renfrewshire community.
If you’ve any interest in getting involved in what we are doing, please use the ‘Contact‘ page.